Newark Policewomen Class of 1949

Photo from Star Ledger shows women in training, May 1949.

Though police matrons existed and 12 policewomen were listed as acting as of 1947 including Claire Gonzales, Josephone B Renz, and Mary Knapp, these weren’t considered permanent “real” policewomen.

Thus, when policewoman were hired in 1949 they were considered by the newspaper, and presumably by all, to be the first hired “in 30 years” since the 1918 hiring of  Margaret Dugan, Justina Eller and Etta Fallon.


In 1948, as Etta Fallon retired, the City advertised for policewomen. There was a Civil Service test and results were printed in April 1949 with the top 15 contenders being: Anna Henstch,Catherine Daly, Helen Mihalik, Eleanor Stokes, Edith Manfredi, Sally G Carroll, Martha V Garber, Sarah L Lackey, Helen Pfeifer, Lizzaetta M Smith, Margaret P Carr, Rhoda E Pryor, Mary Regan, Patricia E Keiser (1949), Ella M Walden.

Newark News April 28, 1949

Anna Hesch took a city clerk job instead. The 13 women sworn in on April 28, 1949 were as follows:

  1. Catherine M. Brown (1923-?)

Former teacher, 98 Elizabeth Ave. Divorced. Born in MA and lived in NY when her daughter was born. A single mother, on the 1950 census with Elizabeth A Brown, age 4.

April 29, 1929 Star Ledger

2. Margaret P Carr Levy (1926-2013)

Lived at 426 West Market. Married twice in 1950 and then 1967 to William Levy. Worked as a nurse Worked as a nurse at Columbus Hospital before becoming a policewoman for 5 years. She returned to nursing and was a First Industrial Occupational Nurse for the Newark Main Post Office until 1977.

Star Ledger Apr 19, 1949

3. Catherine H. Daly Salzer (c. 1921-2002)

Former dental assistant, veteran of WAVE. Married William A Salzer in 1950. Later worked for Celanese Corp. for 30 years as an Executive secetary.

4. Sarah Pooley Lackey (1919-1996)

Fireman’s wife at the time she was hired. Died in Bloomfield.

April 29, 1949 Star Ledger

5. Edith Manfredi Zoppi (1925-1995).

Born in NY in 1927, former stenographer. Lived at 53 Wallace Street. June 1943 Central Graduate. Edith served as a policewoman from 1949-1951 and then for the Essex Sheriff’s Office for 36 years, retiring as a deputy clerk. Died in Cedar Grove.

Yearbook Photo

6. Martha Virginia Garber (1927-1979)

Went by Virginia. 303 South South 18th Street. 1944 West Side Graduate. Married Francis Ardito in 1950 and Henry Haines in 1970. Was a policewoman from 1949-1952.

Yearbook Photo

7. Helen Mihalik Shotyk (1924-1998):

Fomer office machine operator, WAVE veteran. Daughter of Czech immigrants. Lived at 75 Niagra St. Jan 1941 East Side Graduate . She worked as a police officer in Vailsburg and served for 11 years. Married in 1955 and became Shotyk.

Yearbook Photo

8. Helen Pfeifer Mason (1926-2008)

Former secretary, 48 Magazine St, mother a Czech immigrant. Married William Mason in 1953. Lifelong resident of the Ironbound. Worked in traffic, youth aide and special investigations, retiring in 1983. She met her husband William there, who was also a police officer. She was a member of St. Stephan’s Church in the Ironbound and the Ironbound Senior Citizens Boys and Girls Club.

9. Rhoda E Pryor (1926-2003)

Former library assistant. Married in 1950 and became Rhoda Daniels. 1944 Barringer graduate. Black recruit. Born in New York. Went into other professions in Newark like United Way fairly quickly. In 1969, she was named Director of Information and Referral Services at the Essex-West Hudson Community Fund and before that worked for the Essex Welfare Board.

Yearbook Photo

10. Mary K Regan Knowles (1922-1996)

Housewife, former clerk, 170 Polk, married. Married again to Knowles.

11. Lizzetta Smith (1920-1992)

Former bookkeeper, lived 105 S. 7th St, born in NJ. Never married. Served with the department for 38 years before retiring in 1987. Upon her death was listed as the first female police sergeant.

April 29, 1949 Star Ledger

12. Eleanor M Stokes (1919-1983)

WAC veteran, former typist, born 1919 in Saxton, PA, lived 97 Littleton Ave at a boarding house. Black recruit. Never married. She was a detective with the Police for 34 years before retiring.

13. Sally G Carroll (click for full bio)

Notably there were three Black women hired. From the New York Age:

New York Age May 14, 1949


Star Ledger Dec 16, 1949

In December, six more women were sworn in:

  1. Laura M Wussler (1925-2013)

Born in NJ, lived on Underwood St. Married Charles H Urban in 1951. She became a detective and ran the Missing Persons Bureau before retiring to Ocean County.

Obituary Photo

2. Elizabeth Kohaut (1924-2001)

Former nurse. West Side High Graduate. Retired in 1976 after 28 years as a policeowoman. Had an affinity for children while working the job who called her “Betty the Cop”. She never married. Later she worked in nursing again with crime victims and retired in 1976, after which she traveled extensively with her sister.

3. Martha Brent Parnell (1921-1974)

Born 1921 in New Jersey. Lived on 12th Ave. Married Rue Greene and then Oscar Parnell. Worked for the Traffic Division and Youth Aid Bureau. Graduate of West Side High. Black recruit.

4. Patricia Keiser (1927-2004)

Married. Born in Oregon, lived on First Street. She served as a policewoman in Newark until 1953, after attending nursing school. Later moved to California.

5. Ruth Dargan (1921-2010, click through for full bio)

6. Marion Graham (1921-2004?)

Born in New Jersey. Lived with one other woman at Forest St. Possibly married Johhnie Reese and died in 2004.


“Police Women Hazard to Newark’s Mashers” Star Ledger March 16, 1947 cites “12 acting policewomen” but not “permanent squad”

  • Names in this article: Claire Gonzales, Josephine B Renz, Mary Knapp

“Policewomen interviews on” Star Ledger May 19, 1948

“Lady Cops Wanted” Star Ledger Sept 10, 1948

“Ex marine topkick heads lady cop list” Star Ledger April 14, 1949

“Lady Cops Get the Know From Their Sisters in New York” Star Ledger May 24, 1949

“Now It’s Official” (photo) Star Ledger Apr 29, 1949

“Newark Gets First Policewomen in 30 Years” Newark News Apr 28, 1949

“The Finest” (photo) Star Ledger Dec 16, 1949

“Female Cops Begin Training” Star Ledger May 5, 1949
“Police Always Busy Learning the Laws” Star Ledger Jun 4, 1950

Kukla, Defying the Odds

“Elizabeth Kohaut, 77, Betty the Cop To Kids” Star Ledger Aug 3, 2001

Newark Yearbooks:

“Helen Shotyk, A Pioneer Newark Policewomen” Star Ledger Jun 17, 1998

“Named” Star Ledger Jun 27, 1969

“Catherine H Salzer, 81, Loving Grandmother” Courier News May 31, 2002

“Margaret P. Levy” Asbury Park Press Dec 3, 2018

“Lackey, Sarah” Star Ledger Nov 13, 1996

“Edith Zoppi” Bloomfield Life Jul 6, 1995

“Virginia Haines” Star Ledger Aug 8, 1979

“Helen S Mason, 81 Newark Police Detective” Star Ledger Mar 4, 2008

“Lizzetta Smith, 71, Police Sergeant” Star Ledger Apr 22, 1992
“Eleanor Stokes, 64, Newark Detective” Star Ledger Nov 17, 1983

“Laura M Urban” Asbury Park Press Aug 6, 2013

“Woman Cop Dies At Home” Star Ledger Jun 23, 1974

Patricia Eileen Keiser